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Marilyn Monroe's Death: Conspiracy Theories And What Allegedly Really Happened

1960s | August 5, 2020

(Getty Images)

By the time of Marilyn Monroe's death in 1962, she was one of the most sought-after and successful actresses of the era, but success didn't equal happiness for Monroe. For most of her life, she was dismissed as a brainless beauty despite her considerable talents, and her final years were fraught with bad relationships, drugs, and depression. Monroe's cause of death was initially deemed a "probable suicide," but a lack of evidence has fueled conspiracy theories for decades, implicating everything from UFOs to the Kennedy family in her death. We'll likely never know the truth about her untimely demise. We can only think of what could have been.

Death Of A Superstar

In Monroe's final years, her severe depression and insomnia left her dependent on amphetamines to get out of bed in the morning and alcohol and barbiturates to get back into it. This literal cocktail of illness and self-medication threw a wrench into her once-sterling career, and she was soon fired and sued for $750,000 by 20th Century Fox after a chronic respiratory infection delayed production of 1962's Something's Got To Give. She was eventually rehired at the behest of co-star Dean Martin, with production set to resume in October, but tragically, it was not to be.

On August 4, 1962, Monroe spent the day puttering around her Brentwood estate, where she had a therapy session and a meeting with a photographer to discuss a spread in Playboy. Around 3:30 the next morning, Monroe's housekeeper, Eunice Murray, found her lying facedown in her bed and unresponsive. By 3:50 A.M., she was confirmed dead of a barbiturate overdose.

(Dell Publications, Inc./Wikimedia Commons)

The Case For Murder

Because of the way the Hollywood system worked in the early 1960s, stars were protected at all costs from any kind of story that would make them look bad in the press—even if they were dead. In many cases, studio "fixers" showed up to the scene of a crime before the police to make sure everything was shipshape.

There's no conclusive evidence that anyone from 20th Century Fox was at Monroe's home on the morning of August 5, 1962, but Monroe's housekeeper was seen washing the star's sheets as the police arrived. It wasn't the only fishy part of the official story: During Monroe's autopsy, no capsules were found in her stomach, calling into the question the theory of barbiturate overdose, and her body bore bruises consistent with a physical altercation. To make matters more distressing, the deputy coroner at the time insisted that he signed the star's death certificate "under duress."

(Cecil W. Stoughton/Wikimedia Commons)

Did The Kennedys Kill Marilyn Monroe?

One of the worst-kept secrets in history is that Marilyn Monroe had affairs with John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert. In 1964, anti-communist activist Frank A. Capell self-published a pamphlet claiming that after Monroe was shunned by both Kennedy brothers, she threatened to out them as comrades. Capell insisted that pretty much everyone in Monroe's life was a communist, especially Robert Kennedy, who Capell claimed wanted to overthrow the government from the inside. Capell was convinced that the Kennedys had her "liquidated" to keep her from talking.

In 1973, no less a literary luminary than Norman Mailer released a biography of Marilyn Monroe, which took a different stance on the rumor that the Kennedy family was involved in the star's murder. He claimed that she was likely taken out by the FBI or CIA, who wanted to make a "point of pressure" against the Kennedy family. Mailer actually didn't believe that Monroe had even had an affair with Robert Kennedy, but he suggested that because everyone thought she did, the government hoped to stage her death to "look like a suicide, for unrequited love of Bobby Kennedy" to embarrass the political dynasty.

(John Bottega/Wikimedia Commons)

Did Jimmy Hoffa Kill Marilyn Monroe?

In 1962, Jimmy Hoffa was at odds with the U.S. government over allegations that he was using a pension fund to make payments to the mob. Hoffa took exception to the accusation, not because it wasn't true but because he believed the Kennedy family (whose golden boy, Bobby, led the investigation) made their money in bootlegging. The veracity of that charge is doubtful, but it's known that Hoffa resented what he saw as their hypocrisy. What's not known but theorized in some circles is that Hoffa went after Monroe in attempt to punish Robert Kennedy. Allegedly, Hoffa believed that it was actually Robert who was in love with Monroe, so for revenge, he had the attorney general's ladyfriend offed.

(Oleg Alexandrov/Wikimedia Commons)

Was Marilyn Monroe Killed Because Of Aliens?

In the 2017 documentary Unacknowledged, ufologist Steven Greer claimed to have access to recordings of a phone call between Monroe and Robert Kennedy in which the two spoke about the President visiting a base in New Mexico to inspect things from outer space. Greer believes that the CIA killed Monroe and pressured the coroner's office to declare the death a suicide to keep the secrets of Area 51—and whatever else she knew—safe. None of these theories are likely, but the idea that Marilyn Monroe was killed because she knew about an incident that happened in New Mexico in the 1940s simply can't be true. Unless it is.

Tags: 1960s | conspiracy theory | death | hollywood

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Jacob Shelton

Writer

Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.